This Hands-On Menchie’s Owner is All-In with 9 Stores, and More to Come
Cameron Garner of Puyallup, Wash., is one of Menchie’s most successful franchisees. After starting out with one store in February 2009, by August 2013, he had nine stores under his belt. He often shares his experience with potential franchisees. Here’s how one such question-and-answer session went:
What do you like about Menchie’s?
The one thing that got me interested was the guest care aspect. Every guest matters, and every guest needs to leave with a smile. … That’s what set Menchie’s apart for me and made me fall in love with it.
Is there anything you don’t like about Menchie’s?
The one thing I don’t like about the business is the saturation in the market right now.
What are your secrets to hiring? How do you combat turnover?
The turnover rate is actually very low. My entry into business was in retail that carried a very high turnover, and I was actually expecting that. But they like the environment and they stick around for a long time. In terms of advertising, you can use Craigslist and things like that. If you’re near a university, you can get recent college graduates.
How did you build such a successful operation?
I’m very hands-on. If there’s something I don’t know, I’m going to go into that store and figure it out and understand it. That’s what I think sets me apart. When it comes to profitability and being a good operator, you have to watch your payroll really close.
What do you think of the competition?
They don’t worry me. When I opened up my third location, there were yogurt shops one mile to the east and one mile to the west. I was hesitant. But once we opened up and started hearing from the guests about what set us apart and made us better, I got the courage to go over and check it out. … Overall, we’re going to win out over the competition and come out on top.
How do you operate a remote location?
I have cameras in all my stores, so I watch a lot of the time on camera. I have a great store leader in there who knows what I expect… I spend time really being engaged via phone, via cameras to team members to make sure they know what we want to see and what’s critical, and once I’ve got that down I can remotely manage the stores.
How often do you visit your stores?
I visit my stores biweekly. I need to know when I’m not there… the quality is there, the cleanliness is there and the guests are being taken care of. They (the team members) know I’ve got their back, and in turn they take care of me as a result.
Within what period did you break even on your first store?
Realistically three years, four years. At my first location, I was able to do it a lot quicker than that. From the first month forward I had positive cash flow. Around three to five months is where you start to hit that positive cash flow.
How do you find locations for your stores?
I take a very proactive approach. I go out and drive around and find that best location and from there I work with Menchie’s to get that built. The second way is to work with a broker … nowadays, at the stores I’m opening people are coming up to me saying, ‘I want you to open a store in that location.’
Why did you join Menchie’s?
To make money, but ultimately because I wanted to do something different and something that included my family… I’m a family guy. I wanted to have a family business. My daughter is my biggest taste-tester; my son tells me what stickers I should get in and hand out; my wife is the loudest on cleanliness. Altogether, we’ve having fun. We wanted to be a gathering place for the community to get together and have fun.
Did you go over budget on your first store?
I went way over budget. We had a lot of challenges, and there was a lot of education we had to do for the city. Instead of eight weeks, it took 14 to 16 weeks. Moving forward, on stores two through seven I’ve been under budget every time, and I’ve been able to cut costs and make it even better.